Tips for hiking trails through Black River Gorges
We all know the concept of the bucket list – most of us probably have one, even if we haven’t written it down. But the list has evolved from plain vanilla to something much more flavourful of late, with people no longer content to simply tick off sights from the sidelines. Nowadays, we want to join in, to be active, to get wet and muddy and fully immersed, and discover the thrill of doing something we love in a new and exciting environment.
For today’s challenge-seekers, Mauritius provides many outlets for such adventures, especially in terms of adding some spice to activities like hiking.
Black River Gorges National Park is the ideal place to shake things up a bit, whether that means a hardcore climb to the highest peak or a gentler ramble through the rainforest.
Where to start?
Two information centres provide maps and advice for those wanting to explore the 60 km network of trails which criss-cross the park. There’s the main Black River Gorges Visitors Centre at the western entrance and the Petrin Information Centre on the eastern side. Or you can hire a guide from either if you prefer.
If you’d rather travel on two wheels than two legs, most hotels and guesthouses offer mountain bike rentals for the day, or longer if you’re planning on staying overnight at the park’s camping area.
For something not too strenuous with the added bonus of being able to keep your feet dry, take the boardwalk near the Petrin Centre which leads deep into marshy, plant-rich heathland. Or, next to Alexandra Falls you can venture along a trail into upland dwarf forests – favoured feeding habitat of the beautiful lime green echo parakeet - a bird which was almost extinct in the early 1980s, but is now considered another of the remarkable success stories of Mauritius’s conservation efforts.
Lace up your boots
If you’re after an activity to set the heart pounding, lace up the hiking boots and take a more adventurous climb to the top of Black River Peak, the highest point in Mauritius. Keep a look out for elusive macaque monkeys, or the distinctive golden-coloured Mauritian flying fox. Sightings are uncommon during daylight hours but not unheard of. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with staggering views of a perfect turquoise Indian Ocean lagoon, complete with the island of L’ile aux Benitier on the horizon.